When the plane landed on Sunday afternoon Patrick Kelly reached for his pack in the carry-on compartment causing the small turtle to fall onto his foot.
“At first I thought it was a toy turtle sort of statue and then it moved on my feet,” he said.
The turtle was a terrapin, which is a small freshwater species often used as a pet.
Nobody on the plane came forward as its owner.
“They [flight staff] did ask if anyone on the plane had lost a turtle, people found that pretty funny,” Mr Kelly said.
“A flight attendant picked it up with a napkin and took it away.”
Mr Kelly said the turtle appeared in good health.
“It looked to be moving it’s little webbed legs fine and sticking its head in and out,” he said.
“It certainly didn’t look too scarred from the flight.”
Bemused passengers started asking how the turtle ended up in a luggage compartment.
Tasmania may not have been intended destination
Mr Kelly said the plane was delayed 45 minutes before taking off from Melbourne.
He suspects flight staff must have missed the turtle when they checked the plane.
A Jetstar spokeswoman told the ABC the turtle probably fell out of someone’s bag.
She said the plane had been flying between Melbourne and Sydney, before the flight to Hobart.
The turtle was handed over to biosecurity officers.
Biosecurity Tasmania has been contacted for comment.
The turtle is not the only animal to find its way to Tasmania in strange circumstances.
A giant panda snail was sent illegally to the island state using Australia Post’s express post service in March.